July 19, 2012

My First--And Last--Words On The "Nobody Does It Alone" Speech (Probably)

I'm not sure what to make of Obama's speech, in which he downplays the importance of the business entrepreneur in...well, in creating the business. It's a little like downplaying the chef in creating the meal--sure, the owner provided the space, but without the chef, you've just got a room full of hungry people.

Two things that I think stood out were the fact that he more or less cribbed it from Elizabeth Warren, and that he was off the teleprompter when he did so. The former makes him seem a little (a lot?) unoriginal, and the latter makes him seem a little reckless. At least it wasn't one of his "go-fuck-yourself-San-Diego-Anchorman" gaffes, like the time he introduced people twice because the teleprompter told him to.

The big problem I have, though, is with his logic. Follow along with me, won't you?

1) Obama cites roads and bridges, created by government, as being partly responsible for the success of businesses. The logic here is that those two structures facilitated the acts of your going to work, transporting supplies and merchandise, etc., and resulted in the success of your company.

2) Each year around 40,000 people die in auto accidents on America's roadways. A few more commit suicide by jumping from a bridge. (About 20 a year just from The Golden Gate Bridge alone.)

3) Those roads and bridges certainly facilitated those deaths, at least as much as they facilitated those businesses Obama was talking about.

4) By Obama's logic, since government was responsible for those roads and bridges, and those roads and bridges were partly responsible for those deaths, then the government is partly responsible for those deaths!

And there are a number of other horrible things we could attribute to the government, using Obama's standard. The serial killer who picks up his victims by the side of the government-built road, and then transports them elsewhere? Government helped do that. What about mass shootings, such as Columbine? Those government-built public schools brought all those targets together in one place, under little security. According to Obama, Klebold and Harris didn't do that themselves.

Now, obviously, I don't believe the government was responsible for those events. I only bring them up to illustrate my point. My conclusion is ridiculous, but I hope you'll see by comparison that the president's is equally so. And you can't simply separate the two by claiming that the bad events don't count. If they count for the good, they must count for the bad.

One other thing I have to point out: the government doesn't actually have any of its own money. You know where it gets it from? Taxes. You know who pays taxes? Wealthy entrepreneurs. Well, not all of them, but the top 20% (average income of $273,000), pay about 67% of total federal income taxes. So while Obama implies that "government" built those roads and bridges? It's really the financially successful entrepreneurs who built them.

So be sure to thank those people come November. You know how.

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